Chuck Barris Was a CIA Assassin? Plus other Fun Facts About the TV Game Show Personality

The Gong Show Chuck Barris, 1976-1980
NBC/Everett Collection

Even if you’ve never heard of Chuck Barris, you’ve most certainly heard of some of the iconic game shows that he created. While he is most known for creating shows such as The Gong Show and The Dating Game, he had a very bizarre and intriguing life. In honor of what would have been his 95th birthday (June 3, 1929), let’s learn about his life and career. Barris passed away on March 21, 2017, at the age of 87.

He wrote a hit song

Besides being a television producer, he wrote several books and songs. Barris wrote the hit song “Palisades Park,” performed by Freddy Cannon. He also wrote an autobiography called Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was turned into a dramatized film directed by George Clooney, along with several novels and memoirs.

He claimed to have worked as a CIA assassin

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Sam Rockwell, 2002

(Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris in the film) Miramax/Everett Collection

Speaking of his autobiography, in the book he claimed that he worked as a CIA assassin in the 1960s and 1970s. It seems this has never been confirmed and most people don’t believe it to be true. Reportedly a CIA agent said that his claims were false but Barris quipped back suggesting that the CIA would never actually confirm if someone worked as an assassin. Perhaps we will never know!

He received a very special posthumous honor

Chuck Barris, 1974

Gene Trindl/TV Guide/Everett Collection

After he died, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame for his contributions to the industry. Barris was known for his unusual ideas that turned out to be hits. The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game introduced game shows based on love and relationships, which was fairly new at the time. Of course, The Gong Show was highly popular but often controversial for its crazy antics performed in front of celebrity judges. Before he became a television producer and host, he started out as a page at NBC and worked his way up the ladder.

He had a short-lived talk show

The Gong Show Movie Chuck Barris, 1980

Everett Collection

Since he had such a charismatic personality, it was only natural that he became the host of a talk show. It was called The Chuck Barris Rah-Rah Show but never found an audience the way that his game shows did. It had a very short run and only aired for one short season.

What is your favorite show that Barris created?

Game Shows
Want More?

Game Shows

November 2020

Enjoy trivia, giant crosswords, word sudoku, brainteasers and more all themed around your favorite TV game shows.

Buy This Issue